story and photo by James Coburn, staff writer
Kenzie Combites passes nine hospitals from Norman to Oklahoma City on her way to work as a registered nurse at Oklahoma ER & Hospital. She says the extra miles are worth the effort.
“It’s the atmosphere and it’s the environment with my coworkers. I truly have my dream job working here,” Combites said. “I thoroughly love my job and what I do.”
Education is important among the staff with a willingness to learn. Many nurses are continuing their education, earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Combites is a young nurse who embraces opportunities to advance in her career.
She is a 2019 nursing school graduate of Oklahoma City Community College. She was 19 when at first, she began scribing for physicians. She has worked at Oklahoma ER & Hospital for three years.
I love working in the ER and one of the first doctors I worked with, Dr. (Sang) Lee, is actually the medical director here,” she said. (story continues below)
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Oklahoma ER & Hospital is growing with quality emergency care. Seven local physicians who saw a need for compassionate and quick emergency care opened Oklahoma ER & Hospital in 2019. It’s equipped with nine ER beds, a triage room, and a pediatric room. About 50 nurses are on staff to respond to emergency care at 15103 N. Pennsylvania Avenue in Oklahoma City. The 15,000-square-foot building is designed for adult and pediatric patients’ comfort, convenience and quality care.
She and 18 other nurses she works with met at Oklahoma ER & Hospital and share the same three-day schedules. Combites and two other nurses have become best friends. They and their families spend a lot of time together outside of work.
“Even people that we don’t work with every day — we still see each other. They always do a lot of events. We are out in public together, outside a work setting where you enjoy yourself and get to know your coworkers,” she continued. “It’s an awesome environment.”
Her coworkers treat patients as their grandma, grandpa, mom or dad. Parents are always involved when children receive emergency care. They help keep their kids calm.
“I think my coworkers go above and beyond by making sure our patients have everything that they need,” she explained. “It’s not concierge medicine but it’s the same quality. People are amazed by the treatment they get here.”
Combites works weekends. This makes the nightshift unpredictable because there are more events happening in Edmond and as far south and places like Bricktown that bring patients to Oklahoma ER & Hospital.
“I work the nightshift and that makes it more unpredictable. We see a wide variety of things, but in our downtime, we always make sure everything is prepared for the next shift,” Combites said.
Combites’ nursing career has made her more patient in life.
“Sometimes I have to step back and realize in my days-to-day life, my family and other people who are not in healthcare don’t see the same things that I see,” Combites said. “So, if I see something that might not be a big deal outside of work to my family or people who are not in a healthcare program like an ER setting — it’s very scary,” she said. “So, I’ve realized I handle myself really well in a crisis and in very unpredictable situations. If something were to happen, I stay very calm, where others do not stay calm.”
Even though it’s not related to the staff of a former hospital she worked at, Combites recalled that many patients there would come to the hospital ready for an argument. She would work entire shifts without a patient or their family member saying thank you.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people seemed to lose touch with kindness, she said.
“But as soon as I started working here, I got told all the time, ‘Thank you so much for helping me.’ And as crazy as that sounds, it’s touched my life more than all the other things. It was nice, it was very rewarding that people cared and thanked us when we were able to transfer their family members off to different states when hospitals were full here.”
She recalled when her coworkers would call more than 200 hospitals outside of Oklahoma just to find a bed for one of her patients. Families were very appreciative.
“I was like, ‘Thank you for noticing that. Thank you for thanking me.’”
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